Zilker Neighborhood Gardens

Commentary by a National Wildlife Steward who helps Zilker neighbors establish native plant gardens

Monthly Archives: August 2011

Thank you Hill Abell (Bicycle Sport Shop) for clearing brush on Kinney hill

Do you ever walk down the “Kinney hill” – the hill just south of Barton Springs Road? If so, you know that the sidewalk is overrun with bamboo and other bushes that reduce the sidewalk to the size of about one-person-wide (certainly not wide enough for a wheelchair!). When I walk one dog, either the dog or I need to go in the street. When I walk 2 dogs, I just give up and the three of us all walk in the street. In fact, I called 311 LAST YEAR in September 2010 to ask the city to clear it. The city called me back and said they had little money and would do it “later.” They never did do it.

Well, this morning at about 8 am on my way back up the hill after a 4-mile run, there’s Hill Abell, owner of Bicycle Sport Shop who also lives in the Zilker neighborhood, with a few orange cones, his truck, and some tools. He was clearing out the bamboo. So, as you walk up the hill with new-found elbow room, thank Hill!

I have to admit I felt a little guilty that I had not taken the initiative to do it myself. Just a few days ago, I was thinking about doing the same thing. However, I was thinking I would cut it down and just leave all the brush in the street and call 311 to pick it up because I wasn’t sure what else to do with it all. I’m not sure what Hill was planning, but he was collecting the brush in his truck to haul away. But when it comes down to it, I did not do it, but Hill took that initiative.

THANKS for helping improve our neighborhood, Hill.

Share your successes with the neighborhood

I’ve been walking the neighborhood as I do everyday, and I’m seeing some fabulous gardens. Some have just been established this year – others have been with us for years. If you’d like to share a little bit about your gardening accomplishments, I would love to post a few pictures and your story on this website. Please send me pictures and your story to zilkergardens@gmail.com. It doesn’t have to be a long history or anything – even just a picture of your most prized plant and how you’ve nurtured it, would be most appreciated. Share your wealth of knowledge with others.

If you’d rather write about gardening more regularly, consider being a co-writer for this blog. Let me know, and I can set you up to write about your own garden ideas right on this blog (and I’ll teach you how to do it, if you are worried about it.)

Local preserve attracts an escaped buffalo (for real)

In a recent Statesman article, Buffalo roams in wildflower center’s preserve, the author describes how an escaped buffalo from a nearby ranch decided to hang out at the Ladybird Johnson Wildflower Center’s property. This is one smart buffalo! Grass is precious these days with no rainfall and temperatures in the 100s everyday – cattle are even dying out on ranches.

Yet, at LBJ Wildflower Center, they’ve created areas that mimic what the land used to be like here – savannah. In the article, they are pretty happy to have the buffalo visit (perhaps it is a real-time “pat on the back” that their preserve has indeed created a natural habitat), despite the fact that they had to close the hiking trails there.

Workers at the center said they like to think their savannahlike restoration project is what attracted the bison to graze in the nature preserve this weekend.

The area where the animal is grazing is in the Mollie Steves Zachary Texas Arboretum , a 16-acre restoration project that will display different kinds of native grasses and trees in Central Texas, said Damon Waitt, senior director and botanist at the center.

“We just think it’s the coolest thing in the world that she’s choosing that part to hang out,” Waitt said. “The project is much like what Central Texas would have looked like when buffalo actually roamed 200 years ago.”

So imagine that: a buffalo, happy, hanging out in her circa-1811 turf in South Austin. Wouldn’t we be so lucky to build native landscapes where animals would take refuge? [OK, ok, our small city yards are not going to exactly contain a buffalo, but it’s fun to think of it!] Here she is:

Buffalo roams Wildflower Center Preserve

Photo by: Joseph A. Marcus/WILDFLOWER CENTER COLLECTIONS MANAGER

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